Fighting poverty with access to technology – A battle we can win.

 

 

The definition of poverty and the “official” metrics used to measure it varies by country. For example in Venezuela, where I was born, the metric is a family’s ability to afford the “basic food basket” and “basic necessity goods” on a monthly basis. Now Venezuelans are told to raise vegetables and rabbits on their roofs if they want to eat. It has been reported that Venezuelans have lost an average of 20 lbs over the last year due to food shortages, and extreme poverty has risen from 23% to 61% in the last four years. https://www.elpais.com.uy/mundo/pobreza-extrema-dispara-venezuela.html.

 

 

In the United States, poverty is measured by household income levels called the Federal Poverty Threshold (FPT). In 2016, the FPT for a family of four was $24,339, with the assumption that the family unit was two adults and two children under the age of 18. For a single parent with one child, the FPT was $16,543, declaring both the parent and the child to be “officially” in poverty. Multiple children in a household change the FPT formulas and increase the percentages of children living in households considered near poor or poor. In 2016, of the 72.4 million children under 18 years of age in the United States, 15.9 million lived in near poverty households and 13.8 million lived in poor households, including 5 million children under the age of 3 years (https://factfinder.census.gov ).

 

The number one cause was the lack of parental education that lead to unemployment and/or the lack of two parents in the household. Unlike Venezuela’s poor children who may be malnourished from a lack of food, the near poor and poor children in the U.S. are plagued by the lack of parental education and unemployment in their household. Unless the children are shown a different way of life by learning to “love to learn”, and given the proper tools during their early learning years, the cycle of poverty is most likely to repeat with the child. Since the children are the future workforce, it benefits the economic well-being of a country to focus on child education and workforce readiness at an early age.

 

Technology is needed to educate children to make them “workforce ready” in today’s very competitive information-loaded world. Yet, studies show that many families living in poverty remain under-connected and lacking basic access to technology. In 2016, one-fifth (20%) of adults living in households earning less than $30,000 a year were “smartphone-only” internet users – meaning they owned a smartphone but did not have broadband internet at home. Nearly half did not have a traditional computer, and the majority were not tablet owners. (http://joanganzcooneycenter.org/publication/opportunity-for-all-technology-and-learning-in-lower-income-families)**highly encouraged reading**

 

We believe there is too much at stake to wait for the education system to fix the tech gap problem. It requires a community approach to solve the issue in a sustainable, and purposeful way through private and public sector collaboration. Closing the tech ownership gaps will provide the right platform, and foster the environment to deliver comprehensive education to children living in the near poor and poor households,  and better prepare our future workforce regardless of the availability of “government funding.”

 

Our experience has shown us that there are many business leaders ready to contribute their part in making the community better in a way that is beyond altruistic, but with a measurable impact on their bottom line. On the other hand, we have seen firsthand worthy organizations who are champions in their fight for better-educated children but require sustainable programs in place in case funding runs out.

 

It is time to rethink the way we look at social issues and take the responsibility on our shoulders, not alone, but as a community, for a collective and measurable benefit.

 

If you would like to know more about eSmart Recycling’s Social Enterprise Model, and how your organization can become a champion in the community by working with us, please contact us by emailing  Tony@esmartrecycling.com or cga@esmartrecycling.com